Welllington ceremony to mark WWII battle
Sun, 20 May 2012 7:39a.m.
The anniversary of a key battle for New Zealand soldiers in World War II, in which New Zealand's most famous soldier first made a name for himself, will be marked in Wellington today.
Dignitaries from New Zealand and Greece will attend the 11am wreath-laying ceremony at the National War Memorial marking the 71st anniversary of the 1941 Battle for Crete.
The battle started on May 20, 1941, when thousands of German paratroops descended onto the Mediterranean island of Crete, where New Zealand soldiers were based to defend the Greek island.
The battle lasted 12 days as New Zealanders, British, Australian and Greek troops, along with civilians from Crete, narrowly failed in their bid to defend the island.
It was the battle where New Zealand soldier Charles Upham won the first of his two Victoria Crosses for a series of exploits in which he showed outstanding leadership, tactical skill and indifference to danger.
About 2,000 New Zealanders were taken prisoner and 671 died, the New Zealand History website says.
The ceremony will be conducted by principal defence chaplain Lance Lukin and will be attended by Arts, Culture and Heritage minister Chris Finlayson, Greek ambassador Dimitrios Anninos, Army Chief Major General Tim Keating and several other invited guests.
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